Obi Toppin, Knicks looking to play Kevin Durant, Nets, Spoilers

Obi Toppin wants to be able to protect players like Kevin Durant. Luckily for him, he could get the chance to do just that on Wednesday.

“We’ll see,” said Toppin. “He’s a great player. I will never shy away from a matchup – if the opportunity arises, I will assert myself.”

Aside from that little subplot to Wednesday’s Knicks-Nets match, the more important aspect of the game will be the Knicks’ motivation to defeat their rivals in a game Brooklyn needs to win.

It’s not because the Knicks want to play spoilers. It’s just, well, because.

“We have to win tomorrow,” said Toppin. “We lost so many close games against them. We just have to win. We have to come out with a lot of energy. We are in our home in the garden so we have to come out with this win.

Obi Toppin #1 of the Knicks drives to the basket during the game against the Orlando Magic on April 3, 2022 at the Amway Center in Orlando.
Obi Toppin
NBAE via Getty Images

RJ Barrett added: “It’s a big game. I’m excited. I know the team is heated.”

Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) controls the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at State Farm Arena.
Kevin Durant
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks are yet to beat the Nets in three tries this season, losing games by a total of 10 points. Only one game was decided by more than one possession, and the final matchup ended on a poor inbound pass with a second remaining when the Knicks had a chance to level the game.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’ve lost by two or three points every time,” Barrett said. “It’s crazy. I’m going to try to break this cycle [Wednesday].”

The Nets are included in the play-in game but are on record tied with Charlotte. They are currently the 10 seed but could move up, maybe even into the 7-8 game if things go right.

Of course, Toppin’s ability to protect Durant could be a key factor in how Wednesday went. With just three games left in his second NBA season, the 24-year-old wants to see his game continue to develop on the defensive end of the court next year.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, being able to defend 1-5,” Toppin said Tuesday in a news conference that tallyed a tally of his season with just three games left. “Being able to switch to Kyrie [Irving] or [Seth] Curry. Being able to guard these elite athletes and switch to Kevin Durant or something. I want to be a really good defender because I feel like this will take my game to another level.”

Julius Randle and Derrick Rose are unlikely to play the rest of the regular season, Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau said he will see how Quentin Grimes (knee) and Miles McBride (knee) are feeling on Wednesday morning before deciding if they will play. Obi Toppin, Knicks looking to play Kevin Durant, Nets, Spoilers


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